invisible placeholder image
Novels > An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey

First published in France in 1994 (U.S. edition published 2000), An Unfortunate Woman was Richard Brautigan's tenth published novel. Written before his death in 1984, this novel was published post-humously. The theme was an exploration of death through the oblique ruminations on the suicide death of one female friend, and the death by cancer of another, Nikki Arai.

Writing and Publication History
Written during the summer of 1982, this novel was published posthumously, first in France in 1994 as Cahier d'un Retour de Troie (Diary of a Return from Troy), then, in 2000, in the United States and the United Kingdom by his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan.

Dedication
Dedication reads:
Nikki Arai died of a heart attack
on July 18, 1982, in San Francisco
after struggling against cancer
until her heart just stopped
beating. She was thirty-eight.
I sure am going to miss her.

Front cover Cahier d'un Retour de Troie [Return of the Woman of Troy]. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: Bourgois, 1994.
First French edition and the first ever edition of this book
Brautigan apparently gave a copy of the manuscript for this book to Marc Chénetier while in Paris in 1984. According to Chénetier, Brautigan
gave me no reason outside of the fact he trusted me, on the basis of what I had already written on him (he had read my Methuen book, out in 1983), and already translated, relieved someone was treating his work for its literary make-up merits rather than out of some period anecdote-based fan cult he had no use for; he thought I would like and understand it (we talked a lot about this and his other books) and hoped that I could translate it for a French publisher when the opportunity arose, since he was doubtful it would find a publisher in the United States at that stage. But perhaps he didn't have the heart to try that, any longer, and thought it easier this way? I don't know.
Chénetier choose the French title Cahier d'un Retour de Troie [Return of the Woman of Troy]
on the basis of conversations with Richard who wished the French title to pick up on a thread that runs through the text and shows up in several places (the book's epigraph in particular, but of course, the last line of the book too). Euripides was much in our conversations then. He wanted the idea of "coming back from Troy" in there, somehow. [This title] was the best formulation I could find in French of the one Richard had in mind. It has the familiar ring and lilt of Aimé Césaire's most famous work while the dated historical/mythological reference has the classical/ironical note Richard wished for. And clearly the "return" part finds its justification in the structural disposition and orientation of the text.
As for why the book was not published until 1994, Chénetier said
I am not a publisher; I don't make this kind of decision. Christian Bourgois could not consider actually publishing the translation until a long time after I had the book translated. There were others to do before that, and other editorial tasks to pursue, I suppose. (Interview with Marc Chénetier, September 2006)

Front cover New York: St. Martins Press, 2000
5.75" x 8.25"; 110 pages; ISBN 0-312-26243-4; First printing May 2000
Hard Cover, with a wraparound red paper band in lieu of a dustjacket
White paper-covered boards. Black facsimile of Brautigan's original manuscript title and photograph by Annie Leibowitz of Brautigan on front cover. Black titles on spine.
Black facsimile of a March-June 1982 calendar by Brautigan on back cover
Front cover photograph appears on red paper band

Front Cover Photograph
The black and white photograph of Brautigan on the front cover was taken by Annie Leibowitz.

Proof Copy
Front cover Front Cover Proof copy combined in a shrink-wrapped slipcase with Ianthe Brautigan's memoir of her father, You Can't Catch Death, May 2000.

Front cover Edinburgh, Scotland: Canongate Books Ltd., 2001
128 pages; ISBN 1-841-95146-3; First printing 7 July 2001
Paper wrappers, with facsimile of earlier Rebel hard cover edition printed on front cover
Front cover photograph by Annie Leibowitz of Brautigan
New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2001
5.5" x 8.25"; 110 pages; ISBN 0-312-27710-5
Paper wrappers, with facsimile of earlier hard cover edition printed on front cover
Front cover photograph by Annie Leibowitz of Brautigan
UK front cover Edinburgh, Scotland: Rebel, Inc., 2000
110 pages; ISBN 1-841-95023-8; First printing 16 June 2000
Hard Cover, with a wraparound red paper band in lieu of a dustjacket
First United Kingdom Edition
White paper-covered boards. Black facsimile of Brautigan's original manuscript title and photograph (1972) by Ianthe Brautigan of Brautigan on front cover.
Black facsimile of a March-June 1982 calendar by Brautigan on back cover
Black titles on spine.
Front cover photograph appears on red paper band

Front Cover Nešt'astná zena: cesta. Trans. Jirí Hrubý. Praha (Prague): Volvox Globator, 2001.
First Czech edition
76 pages; ISBN 80-7207-437-7
Hard Cover, with dust jacket
10-18 editions
Front cover Cahier d'un Retour de Troie [Return of the Woman of Troy]. Ed. Christian Bourgois. Paris: 10-18, 1995.
ISBN: 2-264-00109-7
Printed wrappers
Reviews
David, Christophe. "Brautigan hors-champ." Le Matricule des Anges (7) April/June 1994: ***?**.
En 1983, Brautigan laisse un manuscrit à son traducteur Marc Chénetier. Premiète parution mondiale de ce roman interactif et prophétique

Au fur et à mesure qu'il avance dans la rédaction de ce qui sera son dernier roman, Brautigan voit son projet initial—"écrire un livre qui suivrait les événements de ma vie comme une carte-calendrier"—lui échapper. C'est que Cahier d'un retour de Troie n'est pas un "livre normal": il fait preuve de "malice chronologique et se plie de plus en plus à la façon dont la vie se déroule." Ce que veut Brautigan, c'est faire un livre plein, continu, sans rupture: "Je crois que j'ai compté les mots des premières pages de ce livre parce que je voulais éprouver le sentiment de sa continuité." Si ce Cahier d'un retour de Troie n'est pas "normal" c'est parce qu'il est le lieu d'une expérience-limite: celle qui consiste à abolir la distance entre la littérature et la vie. Brautigan s'y met en scène, écrivant le texte même que nous lisons. Il essaie d'écrire "en direct." Que le narrateur s'absente: "Je crois que je vais m'arrêter une seconde. Je vais me lever et aller me ballader un peu dans ce paysage du Montana," et il nous raconte ce qu'on pourrait appeler, par analogie avec le hors-champ cinématographique, le hors-texte: "Me revoilà. Oh, je suis allé marcher un peu du coté de chez mes voisins, toujours pas rentrés, et puis j'ai retraversé le torrent, la neige, etc." Il n'y a pas de "trous" dans ce livre qui égale la vie. A tel point que Brautigan renonce à toute maîtrise sur ce texte vivant, aussi vivant que l'épisode mexicain de Retombée de sombrero qui se développait indépendamment de son auteur dans une corbeille à papiers. Brautigan n'est plus l'auteur, il est le livre: "Être ce livre dans son devenir ne fait qu'accentuer mon désarroi au jour le jour." Au moment de conclure, il se dit incapable d'être ce livre et de l'avoir en main: "A ce stade, vous en savez plus que moi sur ce qui s'est passé avant. Vous avez lu le livre. Pas moi. Naturellement, il y a des choses que je me rappelle, mais je me trouve à présent très désavantagé. Au moment de finir, je me trouve littéralement au creux de votre main."

A l'abandon, à la dérive, ce récit est effectivement à l'image de la vie de Brautigan à l'époque où il l'écrit. A la mort symbolique de l'auteur que ce Cahier d'un retour de Troie met en scène succédera un suicide bien réel en 1984. Bien que possédé par la "folie" poétique pour laquelle on aime Brautigan—qui d'autre pourrait nourrir le "fantasme" de se faire photographier avec un poulet dans les bras à Hawaï, trouver exotique de manger un hot dog en Alaska, rêver de rencontrer une nouvelle maîtresse en faisant ses courses au supermarché ?—ce récit est pourtant traversé par l'évidence de la finitude. Un véritable sentiment tragique, qui n'a pas grand rapport avec le tragique au sens d'Euripide, s'y exprime: pour preuve, la très belle méditation sur le souvenir que suscite la visite du cimetière japonais de Hawaï. Mais si un fond d'angoisse le porte, ce texte n'est en rien la confession d'un auteur dépressif. "J'éprouve du plaisir à contempler le corps d'une femme qui s'ébroue dans les champs de l'intelligence," écrit-il. Et c'est avec une femme qu'il discute la très sérieuse question de la "moralité du suicide": "Je l'interromps en disant: "Montre-moi tes seins," et la femme me montre ses seins sans un seul temps mort dans la conversation comme si c'était la chose la plus naturelle du monde que je veuille voir ses seins pendant que nous sommes en train de parler du suicide." Et si ce suicide était un acte de vie et non pas une dernière tentative pour la contrôler?
Online Resource
David's review at the Le Matricule des Anges website
Lebon, Richard. "Brautigan, le mort reconnaissant." Ab irato (6) February 1995.
Déjà avec Mémoires sauvées du vent, Brautigan creusait une nouvelle voie dans la plaine de ses écrits, une sorte de petit chemin autobiographique où parmi les pierres du passé s'enroulait la poussière de son enfance. Pour ce faire, il n'utilisa qu'un matériel brut, un extrait pur de ses pensées, sans fioritures grammaticales ni extravagantes tournures, quelques clichés de souvenirs à peine modifiés.

Le Cahier d'un retour de Troie poursuit ce chantier à grands pas, fouillant les années et les remontant d'un trait jusqu'en 1982, vingt-huit mois juste avant le silence total et définitif qu'il choisira de s'imposer.

En employant ce procédé d'affinage, Brautigan modifie sensiblement son système d'écriture. D'une part, en abandonnant la syntaxe au profit du récit, il contraint les mots à adopter une certaine forme de simplicité. leur agencement au coeur des phrases est moins complexe, plus dépouillé et de ce fait, l'ensemble est moins attachant. Livrés tels quels au lecteur, ils ne remplissent plus le rôle de traducteur fantaisiste qui leur était assigné. Un phénomène inverse s'est créé. Son écriture s'est refermée, s'est resserrée sur elle-même, se mordant la queue à chaque ligne. Brautigan à présent semble tourner le dos à toutes ces petites choses délicieuses qui ont tissé les trames de son style, de son talent si particulier. Autrefois, c'était précisément grâce à cet étrange patchwork littéraire que son écriture sans cesse repoussait ses limites. Chaque mot était comme un véritable carrefour aux multiples sentiers où chacun y trouvait son compte. Ici, seule l'idée du carnet de voyage propose une issue à tout cela, et encore s'enlise-t-elle rapidement et finit-elle par s'effacer de l'histoire.

D'autre part, en délaissant quelque peu les exercices de son imagination, il impose une platitude presque fugitive à ses paroles. Les quelques images farfelues dont il se sert ne paraissent plus avoir la force d'imprégner les phrases et le peu de fois qu'elles y parviennent, c'est avec maladresse et une prompte désinvolture qui tendent à accentuer la profonde détresse qui file tout au long des pages. Envolées les comparaisons biscornues et délirantes du passé, il n'en reste plus que quelques traces fragiles qui ont peine à décoller de la réalité: "la phrase installe une réalité, un monde intrus, le vrai, vient perturber le déroulement de la phrase." Brautigan, ici, parle davantage des choses qu'il semble les écrire. Dès lors, ses obsessions, ses hantises de toujours sont dans cet ouvrage à peine dissimulées. Elles surgissent à tout instant, comme la mort (omniprésente tout au long de son oeuvre), lancinante toile de fond qui revient inlassablement, comme pour reprendre sa respiration entre les vagues de l'écriture. Cette fois-ci, Brautigan a pris soin d'en parler longuement, sans artifices. On la retrouve à tous les niveaux du récit, dans le moindre événement insignifiant ou non. Dans le titre original de l'ouvrage, dans cette femme pendue, dans cette étrange conversation téléphonique, dans la voiture dont le moteur "a pété," dans sa relation avec sa fille, dans le cimetière japonais d'Hawaii, jusque dans la phrase: "les mots sont des fleurs de néant", écrite pour cette femme atteinte d'un cancer. Dorénavant, il ne paraît plus pouvoir se préserver de cette mort qui l'attire. Son écriture est impuissante à la masquer. En fait, elle n'a jamais été aussi proche de lui et surtout aussi semblable à elle-même. Comme précédemment, le processus s'est retourné. La mort est davantage vécue et ressentie et non plus évoquée comme un quelconque élément lointain de l'existence. Ce n'est plus comme dans certain événements de Sucre de pastèque (par exemple, lors de l'épisode du suicide collectif de la bande d'Inboil, où après la mort des parents du héros, dévorés par les tigres), où l'attitude volage des protagonistes finit par diluer la gravité des situations et la rendre presque imperceptible à nos yeux.

Brautigan a calqué le parcours des derniers jours de sa vie sur ce livre. On sent à travers lui et bien au delà l'approche d'une fin malheureuse, un peu comme ces films dont on sait à l'avance qu'ils se termineront mal. Réfugié dans ce carnet-calendrier, il a contemplé la mort des autres avant la sienne. Et on se demande si ce n'était pas pour savoir comment cela allait se passer, même si depuis longtemps, tout cela n'avait plus aucun secret pour lui.
READ this review online.
Front cover Cahier d'un Retour de Troie [Return of the Woman of Troy]. Trans. Marc Chénetier. Paris: Bourgois, 1994.
First French edition and the first ever edition of this book
Reviews
Grimal, Claude. "Un Américain, Un Anglais—Richard Brautigan Cahier d'un Retour de Troie." [An American, An Englishman—Richard Brautigan Return of the Woman of Troy]. Quinzaine Littéraire 650 15 July 1994: 10.
A synopis of this Brautigan novel.
Maitre, Luce-Claude. "Richard Brautigan: Cahier d'un Retour de Troie." Europe - Revue Litteraire Mensuelle 72 (784-785) Aug.-Sept. 1994: 215.
Reviews the French translation of An Unfortunate Woman. Says,
There are no screams in this story of darkness and sorrow . . . curious by its weightlessness, a story lightened by the author's irony toward himself and a certain drollery attempting, in vain, to conjure the disarray of a man convinced that he will never attain inner peace, or distance himself from all his problems. I have the feeling that this book is a labyrinth of questions semi-asked and connected to fragmented answers.
Front cover Eine unglückliche Frau. Trans. Günter Ohnemus. Augsburg: Maro-Verlag, 2002.
114 pages; ISBN 3-87512-263-1.
Reviews
Amanshauser, Martin. "Forellenfischen revisited. Zwei neue englischsprachige Publikationen von und zu Richard Brautigan." Der Standard 21 April 2001: 7.

READ this review, in German.
Flenter, Kersten. "Richard Brautigan: Eine unglückliche Frau."

READ this review, in German.
Kalka, Joachim. "Schnee, der auf Worte fällt. Mild amüsiert: Richard Brautigans Landkarte des Lebens." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30 Sept. 2002: 36.

READ this review, in German.

Online Resource
Klaka's review at the Buecher booksales website
Schäfer, Frank. "Der unglückliche Forellenfischer." Die Tageszeitung 11 May 2002: 19.

READ this review.

Online Resource
Schäfer's review at the taz.de website
Front cover Ógæfusama Konan: Ferdalag. Trans. Gyrðir Elíasson. Reykjavik: Uppheimar, 2006.
160 pages
Printed wrappers
Feedback from Gyrðir Elíasson
Gyrðir Elíasson. Email to John F. Barber, 22 December 2010.
Front cover Una Donna Senza Fortuna. Trans. Enrico Monti. Milano: Isbn Edizioni, 2007.
First Italian edition
136 pages; ISBN 9788876380716
Printed white wrappers: barcode under title is standard for all books
Red stain on page edges indicates the genre; red is for fiction
Includes an Introduction and Translator's Note by Monti

The Translator's Note reads
Translating Brautigan has been a pleasure and a discovery. A pleasure because, especially in this book, following the rhythm of his writing really meant following the flow of his thoughts; and a discovery because, while translating it, one fully realizes the power cached under simple words, minimal expressions. Therefore my translation has been essentially an exercise in language purification, trying to preserve the immediacy of these journal entries and their vital (and rough) sense of thoughts put down on the page with little or no elaboration. I resisted the temptation of normalizing certain aspects, especially at the syntactical level, as well as the temptation of yielding towards too colloquial a language, which I felt inappropriate to Brautigan's style. What I wanted the Italian reader to feel in my translation is the gentle and melancholic naïveté of his prose, coming from a language which is essentially plain, but never flat, and always capable of sudden jumps, as in the several original metaphors scattered throughout the text. While I may have not been always successful in doing this, I can certainly say—borrowing once more his words—that I did try.
Feedback from Enrico Monti
Enrico Monti. Email to John F. Barber, 8 November 2007.
Reviews
A review in comic form by Italian artist Marco Petrella appeared in his weekly column in the newspaper L'Unità.

From left to right, the panels read:
Panel 1: Who would have guessed, a new Brautigan in 2007! And here it is! A calendar-map, he says, more than a book. Another occasion to let his visionary and bizarre writing jump here and there
Panel 2: In Hawaii, instead of the beaches, he visits a semi-abandoned cemetery.
Panel 3: In San Francisco, he sees by chance a fire and phones an ex girlfriend, a former fire-hunter.
Panel 4: Just like life, a book starts to reel off without a fixed subject; dreamy, absent-mindedly.
Panel 5: I’d rather you stopped here by the library to read his previous novels…
Panel 6: I don't want you think he's not a good writer only because you might not like this book...
Online Resource
Information about this book, in Italian, at the Isbn Edizioni website

An interview with Enrico Monti, in Italian, about Brautigan

Marco Petrella's website
Front cover An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey. Trans. Kazuko Fujimoto. Tokyo: Shinchosa, 2005.
156 pages; ISBN 4-10-512702-0. Printed wrappers
Reprinted 2008

Online Resource
A description of this book at the Shinchosha Publishing Company website
Front cover Una Mujer Infortunada. Trans. José Hamad Zahonero. Barcelona: Editorial Debate, 2003.
121 pages
Printed wrappers and end flaps
Reviews
Anonymous. "Una Mujer Infortunada." Comunidad Escolar 11 June 2003.
Última novela de este escritor, figura de la contracultura americana de los sesenta, y autor de obras publicadas en nuestro país como El monstruo de Hawkline y Un detective en Babilonia. En esta historia—un viaje realizado por un escritor de 47 años por los EEUU y con la mirada cínica y tierna de su creador literario—el autor, que decidió poner fin a su vida poco después de su publicación, nos dejó el memorando de lo que fue una forma lúcida y desesperanzada de vivir en una sociedad sin alicientes para los empeñados en recrear su unicidad.
Online Resource
This review at the Comunidad Escolar website
Anonymous. "Una Mujer Infortunada." Tiramillas 25 June 2003.
"Una mujer infortunada" relata la historia de un escritor—el propio Richard Brautigan—que al cumplir 47 años decide dar un nuevo rumbo a su vida, para lo que sale de viaje a recorrer los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, no es un turista ni actúa como tal: nunca se detiene en detalles como el paisaje, sino que encadena, siempre con un gran sentido del humor y del ritmo, la narración de los absurdos acontecimientos de los que es testigo y los pintorescos personajes. De pronto aparece la mujer a la que hace referencia el título, una mujer que se suicidó meses atrás en su casa. Al hilo de la historia de esta mujer, el lector descubrirá que el narrador, pese a su miedo a la muerte y sin perder nunca la mirada lúcida e irónica sobre el mundo y sobre sí mismo, comienza a darle vueltas a la posibilidad del suicidio.
Online Resource
This review at the Tiramillas.net website
Front cover Talihsiz Kadin (Bir Yolculuk). Trans. Taylan Taftaf. Istanbul: Altikirkbes (6.45), 2010.
110 Pages; ISBN 994-605-5532-04-2
First published: May 2010
Online Resources
Altikirkbes (6.45) website

Taftaf's translator's note available at his website
In addition to the specific reviews detailed below, commentary about this book may also be included in General Reviews of Brautigan's work and his place in American literature, or reviews of his Collections.

Anders, Smiley. "Tragedy Prevades Brautigan's Books." Sunday Advocate [Baton Rouge, LA] June 11, 2000 Sunday Advocate Magazine; 12, 13.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

READ the full text of this review.
—. "Fishing for Truth: Brautigan's Only Child Confronts the Author's Death by Writing about His Life." People Weekly 12 June 2000: 73.

READ the full text of this review.
Bell, Robert Edward. "The Endless Walk Of Richard Brautigan." Suite 101.com. 1 August 2003.

READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Bell's review at the Suite 101 website/blog
Bradfield, Scott. "California: It's A Jungle Out There; Books." The Times [London, England] 21 June 2000: 12.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

READ the full text of this review.
Bourgea, Yosha. "Gone Fishing: Writer Ianthe Brautigan Comes to Terms with Her Famous Father's Legacy." Sonoma County Independent September 14-20, 2000.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman. Says, of An Unfortunate Woman,
The novel—which has been both praised and panned by critics—is written as an apparently haphazard pastiche of journal entries. Many of the events described in the book closely mirror events in Brautigan's own life.
READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Bourgea's review at the Sonoma County Independent website
Carlson, Michael. "An American Original Way Out of Style: Michael Carlson on the Literary Legacy of a Psychedelic Hero." The Financial Times 12 August 2000: 4.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

Says An Unfortunate Woman
is a fitful diary which begins with the death of a friend and follows Brautigan through a dismal six months of travel, failed relationships, writer's block and overwhelming loneliness. It is a deeply sad book, and would be so even if not read as an extended suicide note. (4)
Concludes by saying,
These books are not the best place to begin an acquaintance with Richard Brautigan's work, but read in concert they are a moving reminder for anyone who remembers the joys of discovering the strangely skewed vision of a most misunderstood American original. It's time for a new generation to make that discovery. (4)
READ the full text of this review.
Duffy, Dennis. "A Daughter's Fitting Rescue." National Post [Ontario, Canada] 203(2) 17 June 2000: E13.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

Says, of An Unfortunate Woman
[T]he novel An Unfortunate Woman [makes] its own substantial case for why Richard Brautigan never published it in his lifetime. What he calls "a calendar of one man's journey during a few months in his life" is a tabulation of failure. Something cold-hearted diffuses itself throughhout. The "unfortunate woman," a suicide, never develops into anyone other than an excuse for the writer's ramblings.
READ the full text of this review.
Fraser, Christopher. "The Brautigan Library." The Dartmouth Contemporary. Summer 2000.
An online magazine for undergraduate book reviews produced by Dartmouth College. Provides an overview of Brautigan's entire publication career as context for a review of An Unfortunate Woman, which he cites as "Richard Brautigan at his finest." Also discusses The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings, and You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan.

READ the full text of this review.
Gard, Andrew. "Drama of Doomed Author Redeems Pedestrian Writing." The Plain Dealer 16 July 2000: 12.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman saying
neither has much to offer. . . . [But both] draw their strength from the circumstances under which they were created. Neither is particularly well written, neither contains any real insight. But within each lies the tragic drama of a doomed man, and it is this that redeems them both.
Says of An Unfortunate Woman
A novel in name only, An Unfortunate Woman reads more like a series of journal entries. . . . The scenes Brautigan describes are unexceptional. He watches a man eat a doughnut, contemplates a pigeon on a street corner, debates whether to take a walk. There is no attempt to create characters, plot or narrative tension. Even the deceased neighbor, the unfortunate woman of the book's title, is dealt with only in passing. Her purpose is to reflect Brautigan's dark state of mind. (12)
READ the full text of this review.
Hall, Simon. "Ghost Laid to Rest." The Herald [Glasgow, Scotland] 20 July 2000: 22.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

Says, of An Unfortunate Woman
An Unfortunate Woman does lack the sustained energy and cohesion of some of Brautigan's other writings and, while there is a great deal here that will delight anyone who has enjoyed this author in the past, I can't quite agree with the publishers' assertion that this is a ''long-lost masterpiece.''
READ the full text of this review.
Hamlin, Andrew. "Two New Books Explore the Enigma of Brautigan." The Seattle Times 23 July 2000: L8.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman. Says,
As a companion piece [to You Can't Catch Death], An Unfortunate Woman, a notebook-sized "journey" found after Richard Brautigan's death but unpublished until now, provides his own take on the slow rustle of despondency. . . . If Ianthe learned to mourn her father as a lost son, perhaps her father mourns, through the unfortunate woman, the mother he ran away from, the grandmother Ianthe eventually finds. (L8)
READ the full text of this review.
Harrington, Michael. "'An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey'; 'You Can't Catch Death: A Daughter's Memoir'." The Philadelphia Inquirer 31 August 2000: **?**.
Originally syndicated Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service 30 August 2000: K2502
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.
An Unfortunate Woman is the record of an obsessive writer winding down, slowly losing faith in his abilities. It's like reading a suicide note disguised as a novel.
READ the full text of this review.

Reprinted
"Remembering the Troubled Man behind Richard Brautigan Craze." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 13 September 2000: CUE Section, 03E.
Reprints and retitles 12 September 2000 review in Chicago Tribune.

READ the full text of this review.

"Autobiography Could Lead To Revisiting Brautigan's Work." Chicago Tribune 12 September 2000: Section 5, 3.
Reprints and retitles original 30 August 2000 review in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hoffert, Barbara. "An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey." Library Journal 125(12) July 2000: 90
The full text of this review reads
Opening this "last unpublished novel" of Brautigan, as it is billed, the reviewer panics: will this be another of those unedited messes dragged out so that we can enjoy a bit of nostalgia? But no, after the wistful letter to a dead friend ("an unfortunate woman") that affectingly opens the book, the first few lines of text proper deliver an image—small, ordinary, but astounding—of a woman's shoe lying in an intersection "sparkl[ing] like a leather diamond." The page reverberates, and we know that we are in the hands of a writer who earned his cult status. The other shoe doesn't drop for a while, and in the meantime we are treated to a freefall monologue as the narrator of this semiautobiographical tale wanders from Canada to Hawaii to Alaska, reminiscing, collecting images, and reflecting on his friend's suicide (which obviously presaged his own). A little loose-jointed, this is still wonderful writing. For all collections of contemporary literature.
—. "Prepub Alert." Library Journal January 2000: 62.
Notes that Brautigan's An Unfortunate Woman is forthcoming in May saying, "In Brautigan's last unpublished novel, the protagonist faces one friend's cancer and another's suicide."
Jackson, Mick. "Eternal Hippy: Mick Jackson on Richard Brautigan: An Unfortunate Woman, You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan." The Guardian [Manchester, England] 5 August 2000: Saturday Section, 8.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Jackson's review at the The Guardian website
Kušnír, Jaroslav. "Popular Autobiography and Travel Book in One (Richard Brautigan's An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey, 2000)." American Fiction: Modernism-Postmodernism, Popular Culture, and Metafiction. ibidem-Verlag, 2007: 142-150.

READ the full text of this review.
Lehoczky, Etelka. "Last Words, Sort Of." The New York Times Book Review 16 July 2000: 21.
The full text of this review reads
When someone takes his own life, it's tempting to interpret everything he did and said near the end as a kind of warning. Such compulsive reductionism is particularly difficult to avoid in reading An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey, a book-length work Richard Brautigan completed a year before his suicide in 1984. In it, Brautigan creates what he calls "a calendar of one man's journey during a few months in his life" that, though labeled as fiction by its publisher, reads like memoir. The title refers to a friend who had killed herself and whose absence is the book's organizing force. Under the shadow of this event, Brautigan's familiar mix of wry stories and observations takes on a persistent mordancy. There are certainly moments here when he revels in the absurd, as when he relates his determination, while visiting Hawaii, to pose for a photo with a chicken. More often, though, he adopts a subdued tone that will surprise fans of his famously playful novels. After devoting so much thought to the question of individual freedom in a corrupt world, Brautigan seems here to concede, finally, that some things are inescapable. He dedicates his introduction to another friend who had recently died from cancer. It's possible to read countless other elements of the book as intimations of mortality, from Brautigan's compulsive traveling to his habit of concluding many sections with a date and the word "finished." But just as evident, though overshadowed by subsequent events, is the author's determination to resist the bleak certitude of death. "Life cannot be controlled and perhaps not even envisioned and . . . design and portent are out of the question," he notes at one point. Such a statement—along with the rest of An Unfortunate Woman—can be read as an expression of Zen-like peace or of helplessness verging on despair.
Marshall, John. "New on the Bookshelves for Brautigan Fans." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 19 May 2000: 28.

READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Marshall's review at the Seattle-Post Intelligencer Reporter website

—. "Readings and Signings." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 19 May 2000: 28.
The daughter of writer Richard Brautigan, Ianthe Brautigan reads from her memoir, "You Can't Catch Death," and also from her father's newly discovered last novel, "An Unfortunate Woman," 5 p.m., The Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St. 206-624-6600.
—. "Readings and Signings." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 12 May 2000: 26.
Notes that Ianthe Brautigan will read the following Thursday.
Brautigan is the daughter of local writer Richard Brautigan, who committed suicide in 1984. She reads from her memoir, "You Can't Catch Death," and also from her father's newly discovered last novel, "An Unfortunate Woman," 7 p.m., University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E. 206-634-3400.
Pohl, R. D. "Brautigan's Last Book, Daughter's Memoir Cast Light on a Dark Subject." The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) 1 October 2000: F7.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

READ the full text of this review.
Reynolds, Susan Salter. "Discoveries: An Unfortunate Woman." Los Angeles Times 4 June 2000: L11.
The full text of this review reads:
This is the last of Richard Brautigan's novels, found by his daughter after his suicide in 1984. It's a wandering, obviously unfinished novel, a meditation upon but not about a woman who has hanged herself. That image sits in the center of the book like a bowl of fruit in a still life, but its story is never told. This is the legendary bravery of the beats: the connections between the dots are often left undrawn. Things, details and thoughts seem to align themselves, pointing to true north, to meaning, if—and only if—the writer is a good compass. To be a good compass takes honesty. Writers like Brautigan and Kerouac in the late '50s and '60s worked hard to step outside the American current, outside the rat race. Brautigan makes frequent reference to the effort of staying still (on true north) in this novel of his mind's wandering. His contagious valor makes you notice details (like the kitchen table so reminiscent of the writing of Virginia Woolf and Raymond Carver, an emblem of stillness) you might never have. In the end, he could quiet his mind only by dying. (11)
Also reviews separately You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan.
Front Cover
Ring, Kevin. "Richard Brautigan." Beat Scene 37 16-18.
An interview with Ianthe Brautigan. Reviews and discusses both her memoir You Can't Catch Death and her father's posthumous novel An Unfortunate Woman. Says An Unfortunate Woman is "a slim book but in possession of all the characteristics that won Brautigan a legion of admirers way back when."


READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Beat Scene magazine website
Seaman, Donna. "When the Trout Stream Runs Dry." The Booklist 1 June 2000: 1835.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman. A publication notice appears on page 1852 and refers readers to "boxed review on p. 1835."

READ the full text of this review.
Steinberg, Sybil S. "An Unfortunate Woman: A Journey." Publishers Weekly 15 May 2000: 86.
The full text of this review reads
Eerily foreshadowing the 1984 suicide of its author, counterculture legend Brautigan, this previously unpublished book is a semiautobiographical description of one man's experience of the classic symptoms of depression. The narrator, clearly the talented, alcoholic, sexually questing Brautigan, explains his rambling account as "a calendar of one man's journey during a few months of his life." The episodic entries, dating from January to June of 1982, at first seem whimsically random, as the narrator recounts a peripatetic six months wandering among Montana, Berkeley, Hawaii, San Francisco, Buffalo, the Midwest, Alaska, Canada and points in between, but soon it's obvious that a preoccupation with death is the dominant theme. The narrator stays at various times in the house of "an unfortunate woman" who hanged herself, and the event darkens his consciousness even when he is not physically there. Meanwhile, another friend is dying of cancer, and this, too, contributes to his morbid state of mind. Financial troubles, estrangement from his daughter, insomnia, a deepening dependence on drink and the confession that he feels "very terribly alone" add up to a picture of a man whose melancholy will reach the breaking point. Even so, Brautigan maintains his ironic humor and his abiliy to write clear, often crystalline prose, though at time his mannerisms—repetition of a pedestrian thought, a habit of attaching cosmic significance to a mundane event, such as an Alaskan crow eating a hot dog bun—become irritating. Yet the reader cannot help being moved by this candid cri de coeur of a soul in anguish, and to his fans, these last words will be a book to treasure.

FYI: An Unfortunate Woman is being issued in tandem with You Can't Catch Death, a memoir written by Brautigan's daughter, reviewed in this issue's Nonfiction Forecasts
Uschuk, J. "St. Martin's Offers Two Perspectives On The Late Richard Brautigan: His and Hers." Tucson Weekly 22-28 June 2000: 28.
Reviews both You Can't Catch Death by Ianthe Brautigan and An Unfortunate Woman.

READ the full text of this review.

Online Resource
Uschuk's review at the Tucson Weekly website
Veale, Scott. "New & Noteworthy Paperbacks: An Unfortunate Woman." The New York Times Book Review 4 November 2001: L36.
The full text of this review reads
Finished a year before the author's suicide in 1984, this "calendar of one man's journey through a few months in his life" is labeled fiction but reads more like memoir, blending wry stories with intimations of mortality. "He adopts a subdued tone that will surprise fans of his famously playful novels," Etelka Lehoczky wrote here last year.
Way, Brian T. W. "Brautigan's Unfortunate Woman: Of the Journey and Grace."
Excerpted from Of Fiction, Film and Fish: Richard Brautigan's Metaficational Romance, a work in progress.

READ the full text of this review.